At dinner with friends 11 years ago, John Hykes and his buddies joked about him running the Columbus Marathon. Guess what, he did it!

Hi, I’m John A. Hykes, running out of Hilliard. My wife Kelli and I have 2 sons, Steele and Liam, a senior and freshman respectively at Hilliard Darby HS, and a rescue bulldog named Won-Ton.

Why did you start running? I started running as a joke. Growing up, I was the biggest guy in my friend group. My friends ran cross country, and played soccer, golf, and baseball, while I ended up a lineman on our football team. Running was literally used as punishment, so I was never really inclined to do it on my own. In college, I was 10 hours away from everyone I knew, so I ran a little bit to give myself something to do.

About 11 years ago, my friends and I got together for dinner and drinks. As the night went on, a couple of them started talking about running the Columbus (Half) Marathon and started joking about how funny it would be if I tried to do it. I agreed and laughed along as they pictured me showing up in my brand-new shoes and a plate of spaghetti in hand.

We laughed about it all night. Then, a week later, I decided to give it a shot. I started training and haven’t looked back.

Favorite thing about running? My favorite thing about running has become the community. Originally, it was the ability to be by myself and turn my brain off. Now I love being in a group and meeting new people. Instagram has been great for that!

Favorite race(s) in Central Ohio? My favorite Central Ohio race is the C2C Relay Run. Every year, we run from Columbus to Cincinnati (but this year, we’re going the other direction) to raise money for the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program. This year’s run was August 21-22.

What advice would you give to someone just getting started? My two pieces of advice are to a) get fitted for the right shoes. When I was running in college, I had regular bouts of shin splints because I was running in the wrong shoes. Go see my friends at Fleet Feet + FrontRunner and they’ll take care of you. My second bit of advice is don’t be so hard on yourself. Comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t compare yourself to everyone else you see (especially on social media). Enjoy the running and the improvements you make day after day.

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